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Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Rebecca Elmhirst is Reader in Human Geography and Deputy Head (Learning and Teaching) in the School of Environment and Technology. She is a human geographer and political ecologist, with two decades of research and teaching experience on struggles over environmental governance, migration and social justice in the global South. Most of her work is in partnership with scholar-activists in Southeast Asia, with whom she has developed various programmes of research and teaching. These include current projects on the gender dimensions of oil palm investment in Indonesia, links between migrant remittances, livelihoods and resource access, and on living with floods in a mobile Southeast Asia. She is a Principal Investigator in the WEGO (Wellbeing, Ecology and Gender) MSCA Innovative Training Network on feminist political ecology. Becky is a member of the Centre of Excellence for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics and for Aquatic Environments. She also sits in the Society, Space and Environment research group. Becky has published more than 40 journal articles and chapters, co-edited three books and contributed to popular publications. Her research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the British Academy, the European Commission, the Research Council of Norway and European Commission Horizon 2020. 

Approach to teaching

I am a human geographer with an interest in exploring the links between society and the environment. I approach this through Political Ecology: a diverse field of inquiry which enables analysis of so-called ‘wicked’ problems of negative and socially uneven impacts of environmental change, and which offers a critical perspective on policies and practices that are being designed to mitigate these.

I am to use teaching practices that equip students with the conceptual tools that enable them to think differently about some of these problems. I teach on first year undergraduate modules ‘Human Geography’ and ‘Global Environmental Issues’, ‘Sustainable Development’ and ‘Professional Practice’ in the second year, and on ‘Political Ecology’ in the final year.

I am an advocate of field-based learning, and have built and developed a second year geography field trip to Morocco in collaboration with a community partner in the Atlas Mountains. The fieldtrip offers a transformative opportunity for students and lecturers to reflect on and deepen their classroom learning whilst broadening critical perspectives on society-environment relationships in an unfamiliar setting.


Research interests

I undertake research in the broad field of political ecology. My work is informed by intersectional feminist theory, critical development studies and environmental advocacy-activism around resource extraction, with an empirical focus on the gendered ecological politics of displacement, resettlement and dispossession in forest and flood contexts in Indonesia and Thailand. Current projects include work on the ways that gendered processes of mobility and migrant remittances unsettle linear analyses of dispossession associated with oil palm investment. I am also exploring ways to rethink feminist political ecology by linking theories associated with 'material feminisms' to empirical work on mobility, environmental change and gender in Southeast Asia and the practice of feminist political ecology pedagogy and research in diverse professional contexts.

Supervisory Interests

I am currently supervising three PhD students, two of whom are part of a Marie Curie Sklodowska Innovative Training Network programme on which she is Principal Investigator. I am interested in supervising doctoral projects relating to (feminist) political ecology, and in particular, projects that relate to social and environmental justice, agrarian resource extractivism, decolonial thinking and critical approaches to sustainable development. 

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of London

Master, University of British Columbia

Bachelor, Newcastle University

External positions

Editor, Gender, Technology and Development (Taylor and Francis)


  • G Geography (General)
  • political ecology
  • development studies
  • migration
  • Indonesia
  • feminist theory
  • sustainable development
  • environmental justice
  • social justice

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Rebecca Elmhirst is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 18 Similar Profiles
Indonesia Social Sciences
environmental policy Social Sciences
migration Social Sciences
migrant Social Sciences
Southeast Asia Social Sciences
gender Social Sciences
vulnerability Social Sciences
natural disaster Social Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 1998 2018

Ecología política feminista: perspectivas situadas, compromisos emergentes

Elmhirst, R., 10 Jan 2018, In : Ecologia Politica. 54

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
environmental policy
research practice
Social Relations

Flooding in a city of migrants: ethnicity and entitlement in Bandar Lampung, Indonesia

Elmhirst, R. & Darmastuti, A., 2 Nov 2017, Living with floods in a mobile Southeast Asia: a political ecology of vulnerability, migration and environmental change. Middleton, C., Elmhirst, R. & Chantavanich, S. (eds.). London, UK: Routledge, p. 146-166 21 p. (Routledge Studies in Development, Mobilities and Migration).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterResearch

Open Access
natural disaster

Gender and generation in engagements with oil palm in East Kalimantan, Indonesia: insights from feminist political ecology

Elmhirst, R., Siscawati, M., Sijapati Basnett, B. & Ekowati, D., 10 Aug 2017, In : Journal of Peasant Studies. 44, 6, p. 1135-1157 23 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
environmental policy
ethnic identity

Living with floods in a mobile Southeast Asia: a political ecology of vulnerability, migration and environmental change

Middleton, C., Elmhirst, R. & Chantavanich, S., 2 Nov 2017, London: Routledge. 202 p. (Routledge Studies in Development, Mobilities and Migration)

Research output: Book/ReportBook - authoredResearch

Southeast Asia
environmental policy
natural disaster

Migration: internal

Elmhirst, R., 1 Mar 2017, The international encyclopedia of geography. Richardson, D. (ed.). Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterResearch

internal migration
international migration
nation state
climate change

Activities 2019 2019

  • 1 Exhibition, performance

Extracting Us

Maimunah Siti (Organiser), Elona Hoover (Organiser), Dian Ekowati (Organiser), Alice Owen (Organiser), Rebecca Elmhirst (Organiser), Lydia Heath (Organiser)
11 Jul 201921 Jul 2019

Activity: EventsExhibition, performance